By Rob Kiser
Miami Valley Today
COVINGTON — Covington girls basketball coach Brandon Studebaker couldn’t have drawn up Senior Night any better Thursday night for his three seniors.
Josie Crowell had a career game.
Morgan Lowe made big plays defensively, including taking several charges.
And Morgan Kimmel made clutch free throw after free throw down the stretch as Covington held on for a 44-39 nail biter over National Trail in Cross County Conference action.
Despite a season plagued by injuries, the Lady Buccs were able to finish 7-5 in the CCC and take a 10-10 record to Troy Monday night.
Crowell made big shot after big shot, going 6-for-10 from the floor and 3-for-5 on 3-pointers, in scoring 17 points as Covington had leads of 10-5, 17-13 and 29-23 at the quarter breaks.
“Josie (Crowell) has shown that ability off an on throughout the season,” Studebaker said. “She was pumped up, it was Senior Night. But, all three seniors, really everyone, contributed, It wasn’t just one player.”
And Studebaker was not surprised by Trail’s persistence.
“We saw them do the same thing against Bethel last week,” Studebaker said. “I told the girls, they aren’t going anywhere.”
Kimmel made six straight free throws in the fourth quarter to keep Covington in front.
But, Trail would not go away.
The Blazers made five 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.
Freshman Macaiah Byrd hit one with 2:00 to go to close the deficit to 37-36.
After Kimmel hit two free throws with 1:46 to go to make it 39-36, Molly Skinner hit her second three of the quarter to tie the game at 39.
“It helped that we were coming off a similar game (a win over Miami East),” Studebaker said. “We learned some things from that game on how to handle situations.”
Then things got a little crazy.
Lowe hit one of two free throws to put Covington up 40-39 with 1:20 to go.
Kimmel missed two free throws with 1:03 left, but got the rebound.
Trail’s Makenna Laird had a steal, but a jump ball at other end gave Covington the ball back on the possession arrow.
On the inbounds, there was another jump ball, giving the ball back to Trail with 30.6 seconds to go.
After a timeout, the Blazers missed a shot and Kimmel tied up Skinner on the rebound, giving the ball back to Covington with 11.3 seconds to go.
Kimmel then hit two free throws with 9.7 seconds to go and put Covington up 42-39.
“That was clutch by Morgan (Kimmel),” Studebaker said. “She hit some big free throws in key situations.”
Covington had only four teams fouls, so they elected to foul immediately, giving Trail the ball at midcourt with 8.1 seconds to go.
Trail called a timeout.
“I like the first foul,” Studebaker said. “I didn’t want to foul them the second time.”
Covington didn’t and a tying 3-point attempt was off the mark. Covington’s Claire Fraley was fouled and hit two free throws for the final margin.
“It depended where the ball was (on fouling them again),” Studebaker said. “I didn’t want a risk a foul on the shot and end up losing. I was going to take my chances on them hitting a shot and playing another four minutes. This was a big win for the seniors — for the whole team.”
Kimmel added 11 points and six rebounds to the Covington cause.
Claudia Harrington had a strong floor game and had nine points and six rebounds. Fraley grabbed six rebounds and Ellie Hedges pulled down five.
Laird had 11 points for Trail.
Skyler Ward scored nine, Skinner added eight and Caitlen Gilland grabbed five rebounds.
Covington was 11 of 36 from the floor for 31 percent. The Buccs were 17 of 23 from the floor — including 11 of 14 in the fourth quarter — for 74 percent.
Trail was 15 of 53 from the floor for 28 percent and two of six from the line for 33 percent.
Covington won the battle of the boards 31-27, but had 14 turnovers to Trail’s nine.
“Hopefully, this will give the team some confidence,” Studebaker said.
After a Senior Night that couldn’t have had a better script.
National Trail (39)
Kelsey Patrum 0-0-0, Molly Skinner 3-0-8, Skyler Ward 4-0-9, Makena Laird 4-0-11, Davylyn Wenrer 1-0-2, Micaiah Byrd 1-0-3, J’da Jackson 1-2-4, Caitlen Gilland 0-0-0, Lexi Benedict 1-0-2. Totals: 15-2-39.
Morgan Lowe 0-3-3, Morgan Kimmel 1-9-11, Claudia Harrington 3-1-9, Claire Fraley 1-2-4, Josie Crowell 6-2-17, Bree Reynolds 0-0-0, Ellie Hedges 0-0-0, Meg Rogers 0-0-0. Totals: 11-17-44.
3-point field goals — National Trail: Skinner (2), Ward, Laird (3), Byrd. Covington: Harrington (2), Crowell (3).
Score By Quarters
National Trail 5 13 23 39
Covington 10 17 29 44
Records: Covington 10-10 (7-5).